Brisbane Rugby League premiership

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Not to be confused with Brisbane A-Grade Rugby League.
Brisbane Rugby League
Sport Rugby league football
Inaugural season 1922
Ceased 1997
Replaced by Queensland Cup
Country  Australia
Last premiers Redcliffe Dolphins (1997)
Most titles Fortitude Valley Diehards (16 titles)

The Brisbane Rugby League (BRL) premiership was Brisbane's top rugby league football club competition from 1922 to 1997. Prior to 1922, the competition was conducted under the auspices of the Queensland Rugby League. Until the 1980s it was the premier sporting competition in Brisbane, attracting large crowds and broad media coverage. The BRL however, had been in slow decline for some 15 years as large numbers of its players left to compete in the more lucrative New South Wales Rugby League premiership, and began to lose popular interest with the creation of the Brisbane Broncos in 1988. The BRL premiership was replaced by the Queensland Cup before the 1998 season.

History[edit]

Establishment of the Queensland Rugby League[edit]

The Queensland Amateur Rugby Football League (QARFL) was formed in 1908 by seven former rugby union players who were dissatisfied with the administration of the Queensland Rugby Union (QRU). The new organisation was attacked by both the local press and the QRU for introducing professionalism, which they claimed would destroy the sport. The "founding fathers" of the QARFL included John Fihelly, an Australian Labor Party Member of Parliament who became Minister for Railways and Deputy Premier.

The first official club competition kicked off in Brisbane on 8 May 1909. Norths played against Souths before a handful of spectators at the Gabba.[1] Matches were played under the auspices of the Queensland Amateur Rugby Football League (later renamed Queensland Rugby League). The foundation clubs were:

  • North Brisbane
  • Toombul
  • Valley
  • South Brisbane

Schism: establishment of the Brisbane Rugby League[edit]

In 1922 the Brisbane Rugby Football League (BRFL, later BRL) was formed out of dissatisfaction with the way the QRL ran the game. Those involved took particular exception to the salary being earned by Harry Sunderland as secretary of the QRL. The BRL took control of the local competition. Competing in the BRL competition that year were Brothers, Carltons, Coorparoo, University, Valley and Past Grammars. Although the QRL attempted to regain control of the BRL competition in 1923 and 1924, the BRL remained steadfast and the dispute simmered into the next decade. so dire did the situation become, that by the late 1920s, the QRL commenced its own competition involving Ipswich clubs and two supporting Brisbane clubs.

Until 1932 the Brisbane Exhibition Ground was the home of rugby league in the city. The complicated arrangement between the BRL, QRL and Royal National Association (who administered the Exhibition Ground) led to "The Gabba" being used for rugby league matches.

In 1933 district football was introduced to provide community support and player equalisation. This meant that players had to live within a certain distance of their club. Accordingly Brisbane was divided into Eastern Suburbs (incorporating Coorparoo and Wynnum), Southern Suburbs (incorporating Carltons), Western Suburbs, Northern Suburbs (incorporating Past Grammars), Fortitude Valley and Past Brothers (whose players had to prove that they had attended a Christian Brothers school). In 1934, the University Amateur Rugby League Club folded and disappeared from the competition.

In 1953 the friction between the Queensland Rugby League and Brisbane Rugby League ended, with the BRL being replaced by the Brisbane division of the QRL.[2] Former BRL chairman and QRL secretary Ron McAullife eventually secured the use of Lang Park as a permanent home for rugby league in Queensland. Teams that joined the BRL competition around this time were South Coast (1952–1953), Wynnum-Manly (1951) and Redcliffe (1960).

A record crowd at Lang Park of 19,824 saw Northern Suburbs defeat Fortitude Valley in the BRL grand final in September 1961.[3]

Decline[edit]

In 1967 the QRL removed the residential qualifications for player in BRL clubs, meaning that players did not have to reside in their certain suburbs to play for their teams. This reduced community support for teams, and club decisions began to be made on a more commercial basis.

This coincided with the commencement of television broadcasts of BRL games in the same year. The money made from jersey sponsorships and advertising hoardings at grounds was not able to compete with poker machine money available to clubs in the New South Wales Rugby League, and an increasing number of players left the BRL. This also affected the popularity of the Bulimba Cup which had been held between the cities of Brisbane, Ipswich and Toowoomba since the 1930s.

The effect of television coverage on attendances became pronounced by the mid-1970s and crowds began to desert the BRL competition. Clubs found themselves in financial hardship, and the public began to support the Sydney competition which by then was being broadcast in Queensland. In 1978 the premiership trophy, the Kirks Cup was replaced by the Winfield Cup.

The QRL commissioned Eric White Associates to investigate the administrative structure of the game in Queensland in 1977. One of the recommendations was the creation of a state-wide competition. The Winfield State League was created in 1982. The State League competition ran in parallel to the BRL competition from 1982 to 1995. Also, like the NSWRL's competition, the BRL's was called the Winfield Cup during the 1980s, due to sponsorship from Winfield cigarettes. The Queensland Cup would eventually replace both the State league and the BRL premiership in 1998.

In the 1980s, two further teams were added to the BRL competition: Ipswich (1986) and Logan (1987).

In 1986 the New South Wales Rugby League decided to allow a team from Brisbane to enter the Sydney competition. The Brisbane Broncos debuted in the NSWRL in 1988. As the Broncos began to represent Brisbane at rugby league in the public eye the BRL competition entered the terminal phase of its decline. Indeed 1987, the year before the Broncos commenced playing, was the last year that a BRL player would be selected to play for Queensland in the State of Origin series.

The BRL premiership was fully superseded by the Queensland Cup competition in 1998. Redcliffe won the last BRL Grand Final in 1997 defeating Easts 35–6.

Teams[edit]

Club Years Contested Seasons
Premiers Runners-Up Minor Premiers
Balmain colours.svg Easts Tigers 1917–1997 7 18
Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards 1909–1995 24 10
Ipswich Colours.svg Ipswich Jets 1986–1997 0 2
Hunter colours.svg Logan Scorpions 1987–1997 0 0
Norths Devils colours.svg Norths Devils 1920–1997 11 9
Brothers Colours.svg Brothers Old Boys 1917–1918, 1920–1929 1 4
Brothers Colours.svg Past Brothers 1930–1997 9 10
Redcliffe colours.svg Redcliffe Dolphins 1947–1997 4 7
Western Suburbs colours.svg Souths Magpies 1910–1997 9 7
University 1920–1929 2 0
University Amateur RLFC 1930–1934 0 0
Wests Panthers Colours.svg Wests Panthers 1915–1997 8 10
Wynnum-Manly Colours.svg Wynnum-Manly Seagulls 1951–1997 4 1

The Brisbane Rugby League was also represented by a representative side whose players were selected from BRL clubs' first grade teams.

Grand Final results[edit]

Queensland Rugby League premiership (1909–1921)[edit]

Season Grand Final Information Minor Premiers
Premiers Score Second
1909 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards 22–4 South Brisbane
1910 Ipswich 17–2 Toombul
1911 Valleys colours.svg Valley-Toombul 13–2 Ipswich
1912 Natives 10–0 South Brisbane
1913 Western Suburbs colours.svg West End 5–3 Natives
1914 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards 18–8 Western Suburbs colours.svg West End
1915 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards 10–9 Wests Panthers Colours.svg Wests Panthers
1916 Wests Panthers Colours.svg Wests Panthers 4–2 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards
1917 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards 13–5 Brothers Colours.svg Merthyrs
1918 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards 16–12 Brothers Colours.svg Merthyrs
1919 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards 28–2 Balmain colours.svg Cooparoo
1920 Wests Panthers Colours.svg Wests Panthers 16–8 Brothers Colours.svg Christian Brothers
1921 Western Suburbs colours.svg Carltons 12–10 Balmain colours.svg Cooparoo

Brisbane Rugby League premiership (1922–1997)[edit]

Season Grand Final Information Reserve Grade Third Grade
Premiers Score Runners-Up
1922 Wests Panthers Colours.svg Wests Panthers* 20–9 Balmain colours.svg Coorparoo Coorparoo Carltons
1923 Balmain colours.svg Coorparoo 13–2 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards Grammar Wests
1924 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards 11–8 Brothers Colours.svg Christian Brothers Carltons* Valleys
1925 Western Suburbs colours.svg Carltons 24–5 Balmain colours.svg Cooparoo Coorparoo Norths
1926 Brothers Colours.svg Christian Brothers 6–5 Balmain colours.svg Cooparoo Wests* Valleys*
1927 Norths Devils colours.svg Past Grammars 13–11 Wests Panthers Colours.svg Wests Panthers Grammars Coorparoo
1928 University 10–7 Western Suburbs colours.svg Carltons Brothers Wests
1929 University 12–11 Balmain colours.svg Coorparoo Carltons Coorparoo*
1930 Western Suburbs colours.svg Carltons 19–8 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards Coorparoo Wests*
1931 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards 27–9 Norths Devils colours.svg Past Grammars Carltons* Wests*
1932 Wests Panthers Colours.svg Wests Panthers 8–7 Norths Devils colours.svg Past Grammars Carltons Valleys
1933 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards 9–3 Wests Panthers Colours.svg Wests Panthers Wests* Wests
1934 Norths Devils colours.svg Norths Devils 7–4 Wests Panthers Colours.svg Wests Panthers Wests* Wests
1935 Brothers Colours.svg Past Brothers 11–9 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards Valleys Brothers
1936 Wests Panthers Colours.svg Wests Panthers 13–12 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards Valleys Valleys
1937 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards 9–7 Wests Panthers Colours.svg Wests Panthers Norths Valleys
1938 Norths Devils colours.svg Norths Devils 16–10 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards Norths Valleys
1939 Brothers Colours.svg Past Brothers 11–9 Norths Devils colours.svg Norths Devils Souths Norths
1940 Norths Devils colours.svg Norths Devils 17–11 Brothers Colours.svg Past Brothers Easts Valleys
1941 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards 13–7 Norths Devils colours.svg Norths Devils Valleys Souths
1942 Brothers Colours.svg Past Brothers 20–11 Western Suburbs colours.svg Souths Magpies Railway Souths
1943 Brothers Colours.svg Past Brothers 13–7 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards Valleys Souths
1944 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards 16–12 Norths Devils colours.svg Norths Devils Valleys Souths
1945 Western Suburbs colours.svg Souths Magpies 21–11 Norths Devils colours.svg Norths Devils Souths Souths
1946 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards 5–2 Balmain colours.svg Easts Tigers Souths Easts
1947 Balmain colours.svg Easts Tigers 15–2 Western Suburbs colours.svg Souths Magpies Wests Brothers
1948 Wests Panthers Colours.svg Wests Panthers 14–8 Balmain colours.svg Easts Tigers Valleys Souths
1949 Western Suburbs colours.svg Souths Magpies 22–8 Balmain colours.svg Easts Tigers Easts Easts
1950 Balmain colours.svg Easts Tigers 14–10 Wests Panthers Colours.svg Wests Panthers Norths Wests
1951 Western Suburbs colours.svg Souths Magpies 20–10 Balmain colours.svg Easts Tigers Norths Wests
1952 Wests Panthers Colours.svg Wests Panthers 15–14 Brothers Colours.svg Past Brothers Norths Norths
1953 Western Suburbs colours.svg Souths Magpies 21–4 Balmain colours.svg Easts Tigers Norths Brothers
1954 Wests Panthers Colours.svg Wests Panthers 35–18 Brothers Colours.svg Past Brothers Valleys Norths
1955 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards* 17–7 Brothers Colours.svg Past Brothers Brothers Wests
1956 Brothers Colours.svg Past Brothers 17–10 Wests Panthers Colours.svg Wests Panthers Norths Valleys
1957 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards 18–17 Brothers Colours.svg Past Brothers Wests Valleys
1958 Brothers Colours.svg Past Brothers 22–7 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards Valleys Valleys
1959 Norths Devils colours.svg Norths Devils 24–18 Brothers Colours.svg Past Brothers Redcliffe Wests
1960 Norths Devils colours.svg Norths Devils 18–5 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards Easts Valleys
1961 Norths Devils colours.svg Norths Devils 29–5 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards Souths Valleys
1962 Norths Devils colours.svg Norths Devils 22–0 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards Redclifffe Valleys
1963 Norths Devils colours.svg Norths Devils 18–8 Western Suburbs colours.svg Souths Magpies Norths Valleys
1964 Norths Devils colours.svg Norths Devils 13–4 Brothers Colours.svg Past Brothers Norths Wests
1965 Redcliffe colours.svg Redcliffe Dolphins 15–2 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards Wests Easts
1966 Norths Devils colours.svg Norths Devils 9–6 Brothers Colours.svg Past Brothers Redcliffe Norths
1967 Brothers Colours.svg Past Brothers 6–2 Norths Devils colours.svg Norths Devils Norths Norths
1968 Brothers Colours.svg Past Brothers 21–4 Balmain colours.svg Easts Tigers Norths Norths
1969 Norths Devils colours.svg Norths Devils 14–2 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards Norths Valleys
1970 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards 13–11 Norths Devils colours.svg Norths Devils Easts Valleys
1971 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards 18–10 Balmain colours.svg Easts Tigers Norths Norths*
1972 Balmain colours.svg Easts Tigers 16–15 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards Norths Wynnum-Manly
1973 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards 15–7 Redcliffe colours.svg Redcliffe Dolphins Brothers Norths*
1974 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards 9–2 Brothers Colours.svg Past Brothers Easts Valleys
1975 Wests Panthers Colours.svg Wests Panthers 26–24 Redcliffe colours.svg Redcliffe Dolphins Wynnum-Manly Wynnum-Manly
1976 Wests Panthers Colours.svg Wests Panthers 16–1 Balmain colours.svg Easts Tigers Wests Wynnum-Manly
1977 Balmain colours.svg Easts Tigers 17–13 Redcliffe colours.svg Redcliffe Dolphins Easts Wests
1978 Balmain colours.svg Easts Tigers 14–10 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards Redcliffe Easts
1979 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards 26–0 Western Suburbs colours.svg Souths Magpies Brothers Wynnum-Manly
1980 Norths Devils colours.svg Norths Devils 17–15 Western Suburbs colours.svg Souths Magpies Souths Souths
1981 Western Suburbs colours.svg Souths Magpies 13–9 Redcliffe colours.svg Redcliffe Dolphins Redcliffe Redcliffe
1982 Wynnum-Manly Colours.svg Wynnum-Manly Seagulls 17–3 Western Suburbs colours.svg Souths Magpies Redcliffe Souths
1983 Balmain colours.svg Easts Tigers 14–6 Redcliffe colours.svg Redcliffe Dolphins Souths Easts
1984 Wynnum-Manly Colours.svg Wynnum-Manly Seagulls 42–8 Western Suburbs colours.svg Souths Magpies
1985 Western Suburbs colours.svg Souths Magpies 10–8 Wynnum-Manly Colours.svg Wynnum-Manly Seagulls
1986 Wynnum-Manly Colours.svg Wynnum-Manly Seagulls 14–6 Brothers Colours.svg Past Brothers
1987 Brothers Colours.svg Past Brothers 26–8 Redcliffe colours.svg Redcliffe Dolphins
1988 Valleys colours.svg Seagulls-Diehards 17–14 Ipswich Colours.svg Ipswich Jets
1989 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards 28–4 Ipswich Colours.svg Ipswich Jets
1990 Valleys colours.svg Fortitude Valley Diehards 17–16 Norths Devils colours.svg Norths Devils
1991 Balmain colours.svg Easts Tigers 25–10 Wests Panthers Colours.svg Wests Panthers
1992 Wests Panthers Colours.svg Wests Panthers 40–10 Balmain colours.svg Easts Tigers
1993 Wests Panthers Colours.svg Wests Panthers 18–12 Balmain colours.svg Easts Tigers
1994 Redcliffe colours.svg Redcliffe Dolphins 24–18 Wests Panthers Colours.svg Wests Panthers
1995 Wynnum-Manly Colours.svg Wynnum-Manly Seagulls 32–24 Balmain colours.svg Easts Tigers
1996 Redcliffe colours.svg Redcliffe Dolphins 16–12 Western Suburbs colours.svg Souths Magpies
1997 Redcliffe colours.svg Redcliffe Dolphins 35–6 Balmain colours.svg Easts Tigers
  • * = undefeated

Quotes[edit]

  • "Well that is a tragedy, to be honest with you. There's no club identity at all now. If you don't follow the Broncos well who do you follow? That means you've got to follow a New South Wales side. I think I'm sure that's what McAuliffe didn't want to happen. But when they brought in the Queensland side into the NSWRL that was the end of the BRL, as far as that was concerned. It should never have happened because as it turned out, if we did lose players from Queensland to go to New South Wales we had the State of Origin. We've been winning the State of Origin, and you can imagine if we were keeping our players, the club competition would be just as good as what it was when I was playing. But that is a tragedy as far as I'm concerned is that the people miss that club identity." -Barry Muir, in 2001, on the decline of the BRL and the rise of the New South Wales Rugby League premiership.
  • "Yeah well the crowd was great, they supported you wholeheartedly, they came along but it wasn't only down here on the football field it was on the streets up there. People would come up and talk to you, they'd stop you in the street and get your autograph and have a talk to you and wish you all the best and really support you in what you were doing and lifting the Club. There was four or five players here that were top-line footballers and we used to go up on the terrace and sell raffles in front of McCarthy's Jewellers store on the terrace and we'd do an hour there and then pop down to the Manly Hotel and do an hour there and then we'd pop down to Fishers (pub) and do an hour there. The players were prepared to do it because they were getting the support from this area and they would give it back on the playing field and however they could meet the people on the streets. I don't think anyone turned away from you, it was just one big happy family. We used to have like a barbecue after the game and there'd be 100 or 200 people that would turn up for the barbecue, we had it at various areas." -Lionel Morgan, in 2001, on the support of the BRL in the Wynnum-Manly district.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Pramberg, Bernie (2009-05-02). "Leo Donovan special guest at BRL celebrations". The Courier-Mail (Australia: Queensland Newspapers). Retrieved 2010-04-29. 
  2. ^ Gallaway, Jack (2003). Origin: Rugby League's greatest contest 1980–2002. Australia: University of Queensland Press. pp. 3–4. ISBN 978-0-7022-3383-8. 
  3. ^ "Norths thrash Valleys 29–5". The Sun-Herald (Australia). 1961-09-24. Retrieved 2010-04-22. 

Sources[edit]

  1. "Queensland Rugby League History". World of Rugby League. Archived from the original on 2005-12-19. Retrieved 2005-12-07. 
  2. Mallory, Greg. "The Decline of Brisbane Community Culture – An Oral History Perspective". Archived from the original on 2005-10-18. Retrieved 2005-12-07. 
  3. Mallory, Greg. "Key 'Milestones' Affecting Community and Administration in the Brisbane Rugby League: 1922 -1987". Archived from the original on 2005-12-17. Retrieved 2005-12-07. 

See also[edit]